After a long eight hours spent at the office, it can often be tempting to come home and head straight for the couch. Sure, a couple of hours of rest and relaxation is well-needed after a day full of meetings, phone calls, and whatever other tasks are necessary to get the job done. However, how often do your downtime activities infringe on cooking a substantial dinner, preparing a healthy meal, or completing other responsibilities like doing laundry or grocery shopping?
If you’re not careful, it can become easy for your poor evening habits spill over into the next day, setting in motion a vicious cycle in which you get less done during your peak hours.
On the other hand, if you organize your after-work hours well, they can actually boost your productivity during the daily grind. So before you spend another night melting into the couch and binging an entire season of that new show on Netflix, check out these five nighttime habits.
Limit Your Working Hours
Whether you stay at the office late or put in a few extra hours after dinner, working longer doesn’t mean you’ll be more productive. One Stanford University study found that “employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour workweek, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours.” That means people who put in 70 hours have very little to show for their last 15 hours.
Before adding extra hours to your workday, stop and think about whether or not working longer means getting more done. Would you be better off using your evening hours to rest up for the following day? In most cases, working late into the night means you’ll wake up the following morning foggy and tired, minimizing your overall productivity during your normal working hours.
Cut Down on Screen Time
Your mother was right: too much TV will rot your brain — especially if you let the time get away from you. As Dr. John P. Higgins, associate professor of cardiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston told Health.com, “If you watch in a dark room with a lack of sunlight it can screw up your circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep-wake cycles.” In addition, research suggests that the blue light emitted from televisions, computers, and smartphones can impair the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps promote sleep.
Aside from its ability to distract you from participating in more health-conscious activities, spending too much time watching TV, scrolling through social media, or streaming videos from your tablet after work can significantly impact your ability to fall asleep at night. In turn, this makes it more challenging to get a good night’s sleep, stunting your productivity the next day.
Eat a Healthy Dinner
You are what you eat, right? One of the best habits you can partake in after work is cooking a healthy meal. Although it’s tempting to go for easy options like take-out meals, simple-to-make pasta, or simply gorging on snacks until you feel full, there are plenty of food options that are not only packed with vitamins and nutrients, but also have been shown to boost productivity levels.
For example, fatty fishes like salmon contain high omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly useful for improving memory and mental performance. If you’re not one for seafood, grass-fed beef is packed with iron, a mineral that’s been associated with higher performance and quicker speed on mental tests, particularly for women. Don’t forget to serve with a leafy green like spinach or kale; in fact, one serving of kale holds 1,180% of the daily recommendation of vitamin K, which reduces your chances of mental decline.
Establish A “Power Hour”
This might seem over the top, but have you ever noticed how much you can accomplish in an hour when you set your mind to it? Set aside an hour of time to complete all of the tasks that you might typically leave until the next morning. Things like setting out your clothes for the day, packing a lunch, doing the dinner dishes, and even preparing the coffee pot often are left until the last minute and can lead to a chaotic morning.
Instead, establishing a routine chunk of time, your “power hour,” each night will encourage you to complete these tasks ahead of time. Rather than starting your morning feeling frazzled and stressed (before you even reach the office), doing these types of tasks the night before ensure you’re starting your day on the right foot. This way, when you do arrive at work, you’re feeling motivated and ready to start your workday.
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Create an Agenda for the Next Day
It can be easy to completely shut your brain off at 5 pm and forget about your impending work obligations until 9 am the following morning, but those who are serious about their productivity make sure to create an agenda for the next day before heading home. Even some of today’s most well-known CEO’s complete this activity — American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault uses his evening time to reflect and write down three things he wants to accomplish the next day.
Although it’s not totally necessary to create an hour-by-hour itinerary, creating a list of a few items you plan to accomplish can provide a framework to get your day started on the right track. Your plan could be as simple as a tentative schedule for the following day so you know what your goals are and how you’ll go about attacking them. Office Hero Planner allows you to jot down your goals, tasks, and schedule to best organize your daily agenda. Once that’s created, you can check off each item as it’s completed — and is there any better feeling than ending the day with a finished to-do list?
A few simple changes to your after-work routine can make all the difference in boosting your daily productivity levels, allowing you to finish your days feeling accomplished and motivated to start the next!